Set against the stark desert landscape, Doha’s earliest homes were traditional adobe courtyard houses that formed a low skyline punctuated by the domes and minarets of mosques. Buildings at the time were simple dwellings of one or two rooms, built from mud, stone and coral. A closely woven network of streets and passageways provided refuge from the intense midsummer heat. At around the turn of the century, Doha had a population of approximately 12,000 with around 350 pearling boats. With its fortune and fate inextricably linked to the sea through pearl diving and fishing, Doha has always retained a proximity to and relationship with the coastline.
The old Msheireb area was the heart of the city, connected directly to the waterfront before the construction of the corniche. It allowed vehicular access bordering Souk Waqif, with the route of the old wadi running between them to the sea. It is from this old wadi of cooling fresh water that the name ‘msheireb’, Arabic for ‘a place to drink water’, was born. The area is also home to Al Kahraba Street, Arabic for electricity, one of the oldest and most important parts of old Doha – the first street to get electricity in Qatar, making it a true reflection of Msheireb’s rising commercial importance.
It is this rich historical background that nurtures every stem of the Msheireb Downtown Doha vision, and aims to bring back some of the city’s most treasured ideals and techniques to carry through the years to come.
The discovery and development of the nation’s oil and gas resources in the 1950’s marked a definitive change in the course of the city’s early progress. The transformation from a small trading and fishing hub to a modern metropolis, over a few short decades, resulted in vast changes to the identity of the city and the way of life of its residents. Msheireb Downtown Doha was born of a desire by the nation’s leadership to redefine the course of the city’s development, and return to the cultural roots upon which
Doha was founded.